Kahuku Red Raiders courtesy of Kahuku High
Kahuku Red Raiders courtesy of HHSAA
Kahuku Red Raiders courtesy of HHSAA

REPORT FROM KAHUKU HIGH – Aligning with Hawaii Department of Education’s goal to equip students for college and career, Kahuku High and Intermediate secured a waiver from the Board of Education to raise student-athlete eligibility levels to a 2.3 GPA from the standard 2.0.

The waiver – granting an exception from the 26-year-old BOE policy of a 2.0 GPA – was unanimously approved by the board on May 6. The “2.3 rule” requires all KHIS student-athletes to have no F’s in required core classes and to maintain a 2.3 GPA, a C average, for eligibility to participate in sports. The new rule takes effect in the second quarter of the 2014-‘15 school year, starting with winter sports.

The raised GPA helps ensure that student-athletes are in compliance with NCAA requirements and will better prepare them for college success. It will also motivate students to set higher goals and work to achieve them.

“Eligibility for NCAA colleges requires a minimum 2.3 GPA and most NCAA colleges choose students who have at least a 2.75 GPA,” said KHIS Principal Pauline Masaniai. “Our student-athletes are at a disadvantage with a 2.0.”

In 1988, the board granted a similar waiver, when Castle-Kahuku Complex Area Superintendent Lea Albert, then principal of KHIS, sought to raise the GPA to 2.0 for all four quarters with no F’s in core content. Student-athletes then proved that they could do better in school. This raised GPA became the “Kahuku rule.”

“Student-athletes – all students – will meet higher expectations when they know they are cared for and supported,” Albert said.

Among those now who wanted to raise the bar were teachers and parents in the Student Community Council as well as those in leadership meetings and Kahuku’s athletic department.

Plans are under way to show students how to achieve the new standards. Among these are a new daily study-hall period; teachers available for individual support after school twice weekly; and teachers and volunteers from Brigham Young University-Hawaii on campus to provide general support and homework help three times a week.

Teacher grade checks will follow the established DOE schedule, occurring every two weeks. The results are reported on Mondays, helping to ensure that if a student is ineligible, it will come to light before a game is played rather than after.

“We’ve got to set the standard as high as we can so that students aren’t stuck in a rut,” said KHIS Head Football Coach Lee Leslie. “The kids need people to show them how to meet these expectations,” added Leslie, who holds a teaching certificate. His “process” involves personally helping players in study hall every day, motivating and organizing parents’ involvement, and daily grade checks on his players.

“It’s a lot of work on our end but it improves kids’ eligibility for college,” said KHIS Athletic Director Gillian Yamagata, who handled grade checks in the ‘80s, when Albert raised the GPA to 2.0 each quarter for eligibility. “Our numbers proved that kids could do better; they did better because they wanted to play. I’ve seen evidence that raising the bar like we did, works.”

“We owe it to our students to help them prepare for the avenues they choose to pursue after high school, whether a four-year college, junior college or tech school. We’re confident that our students will meet the new standards with the support of our teachers and parents,” Masaniai stated.

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